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12/09/2007 Entry: "I'm on IMDB!"
Many years have passed since I was living in West Hollywood and trying my luck at sparking a career in the Film Industry, but for some reason, I was never successful in locating any proof of what little success I did have in the acting profession until recently.
It turns out that even though there is still apparently no official listing on IMDB.com of my acting debut in the Roger Corman movie "Smokie Bites the Dust" (in which I worked the majority of the time as an extra, and was only finally "Taft-Hartley" 'ed on the final day of the Bakersfield area location shoot), it was recently brought to my attention that my acting bit part in the "Chips" TV series pilot "Mitchell & Woods" did indeed list me on IMDB. Mitchell & Woods was a promising pilot starring the two gorgeous female cops "Mitchell & Woods" played by actress Jayne Kennedy, from "Body and Soul" with Muhammad Ali, and Cindy Morgan of "Tron" fame.
My parking valet role in this TV series consisted of exactly three words: "Miss Martin's Party?" which I uttered in amazement as these two beauties drove up to a ritzy party at the evil lady's house driving an old beat up car. The punch line was offered by Cindy who replied, "Yeah, can you believe it? The Bentley's in the shop, so we had to borrow the gardener's car." For this ten second role, I spent the better part of the morning preparing with costume and make-up staff to make sure I looked nice and California tanned. As I was officially a dues paying member of the Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) at this point from my earlier work, I was paid full minimum acting scale, which in 1981 was over $500 a day. By this time, I was living in North Hollywood and shleping as a host and bartender at the Moskva Cliff restaurant on Ventura Boulevard most of the time, so to be paid this much for what was essentially a half of a day of work seemed like I had suddenly become a member of royalty! (Of course, it is only royalty if you can land that kind of cash on a regular basis, and I was soon once again among the ranks of the unemployed film actors after this day's work was done).
My completely unsubstantiated theory has always been that this pilot was actually killed by "Tron", and I only say this because of the expression I saw on Cindy's face when she was talking on a pay phone immediately after the shoot that day I worked on the pilot. Cindy looked and sounded like she had just won the lottery! Tron staffing had to be taking place around the same time, which was early 1981, and it wasn't more than a day or two after that the TV series pilot "Mitchell & Woods" cancelled for some unknown reason. Great movie, Tron - thanks in large part to Cindy Morgan! Then again, Jayne Kennedy's "Body and Soul" movie came out about the same time, so the pilot could also have been sucker punched by the stinging butterfly himself (Muhammad Ali, of course)!
Then again, the pilot could have simply fallen victim to the strikes that began to plague Hollywood in 1981. Almost as a reaction to Reagan taking office, Hollywood seemed to shut down completely as one by one, the Writers, Directors, and finally the Actors all went on strike - ending the party for good as far as I was concerned and putting the final nail in the coffin of my relatively brief Hollywood career. It was then that I left Hollywood and the Film Industry and returned to the midwest where I would eventually return to school to experiment with multimedia using computers instead.
Time has passed, and dust has collected on many of my Hollywood memories: I lost track of an 8mm documentary film I had made of the many actors who worked on the movie "Take This Job and Shove It" in Dubuque, Iowa, which I would give anything to watch today. The wild times living in the historical bungaloes on North Orange Grove Avenue (one block east of Fairfax Avenue near Santa Monica Boulevard) in West Hollywood are lost forever since they were torn down and replaced with a Senior Citizen high rise. Along with the bungaloes, two life sustaining orange trees and a fig tree in the central courtyard were likely also lost to what is now primarily a parking lot (the red X in the photo marks the spot where this bungalo once stood) :
Virgil Frye's acting studio was less than a block away east on Santa Monica, and only a block and a half or so west down Santa Monica was (and apparently still is) the famous Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute (http://www.strasberg.com/), which was where we would go to watch plays and learn from the masters. Someday I will have to return to this neighborhood to see what remains of what was once truly a Hollywood film making community.
For more information, see this link on mclures.net, and also be sure to check me out on IMDB!